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Write Life

BY ANGELA TAY

Some people call me Johnny, others call me Walker, and Johnny Walker spells my name. Unfortunately, I am just another pathetic low life, with not even a tinny apartment to my name. This place, which is filled with scraps of paper, is my little comfort zone, a rented comfort zone. This is where I put down my plots and characters onto paper, hoping that one day I will be an undiscovered bestseller writer with a million copies of the novel sold under the name of Mr. Johnny Walker.

And lying on the wooden dusty table is my buddy the typewriter, a manual one of course. It has accompanied me since I was in my twenties, filling every blank piece of paper with words of emotion, fear and love. Every time I have ideas spawning in my mind, I do not hesitate to roll a crisp blank A4 size sheet of paper into the typewriter and feverishly type away. The only thing is that every piece of crisp white paper usually ends up crushed into a ball and gets thrown into the trash can. Beside my budding trashcan, you can see hundreds of squashed balls of paper, some inside it, others inches away from it, and mostly all over the place.

Well, I am just another average guy next door, a novelist failed many times over with an empty bank account. But maybe I should thank God that at least it is not negative.  Twenty years of struggling and I am still living in my pathetic pigsty with nothing to my name except for the occasionally published short stories adding some pluses to my bank account. No novels as yet. I have told myself to keep a positive mindset and who knows, I might just be another diamond under pressure, hidden below millions of tons of coal.

 

“Rin…nggggggg”

What was that? I asked myself. Oh! That sounds familiar. It is my phone. My phone just rang. Great! With balls of squashed paper everywhere in every corner of my tiny apartment, how am I supposed to know where my telephone is?

“Johnny Walker, you bastard. Open this door right now!”

“Five minutes,” I yelled back.

Must be the landlady there, and a fierce one at that. Well, I thought, she should be since I owed her a back dated three months rent.

“Hello…Walker there?”

“Yes this is Johnny Walker. Hey! Haller, how are you? Spinning big time again with another of your bestseller novelist?”

On the other side of the line was my long time friend and literary agent Haller Zac. Literally speaking he is not my literary agent since he doesn’t get any commission from any of my works if there is any. However, he does a good deed once in a while and contacts me should any publisher have interest in my work. Talking about publishers, I know them all like the back of my hand. There is Headline Book Publishing, who publish books written by Neil Gaiman; then there is Harper Collins Publishing…..and so on. Come to think of it, I think I have approached almost every single one of them, big or small.

“Walker, I have a publisher by the name of Corgi Books, think he is interested in your works. Bring down your best manuscript and see him at three o’clock this afternoon.”

“Alright. Thanks, Haller, and who is this editor that I am supposed to meet?”

“Just drop by at Corgi Books, tell them you are Johnny Walker, this will do. Everything else will be taken care of.”

“OK…Thanks, buddy.”

Finally, I may just get my big break to spurn copies of bestsellers under the name of “Johnny Walker”.

Time to face the music - the landlady must be breathing fire under her nose right now.

“Hi! Mrs. Smith, how are you today?”

“Johnny, you owe me three months’ rent! Pay up or get out!”

“Owwhhh… Mrs. Smith. Give me another one week and I am sure I will pay what I owe you in full.”

Can’t believe I could say that without batting an eyelid. In my mind I seriously hoped and wished that I wasn’t lying. I will be making my millions soon. I hope.

My old wristwatch read twelve noon now. I had another two hours to get myself and my manuscript in shape before I head down to Corgi Books. Rummaging through my mess, I looked desperately for my only white shirt. Oh yes I was desperate. That was my only presentable shirt. After throwing and turning over every piece of furniture in my apartment room, I finally found my Thomas Smith white shirt. However, it wasn’t a crisp white shirt, but one with creases. Bringing it to my nostril I could still smell the faint Calvin Klein Eternity Cologne that breathed out of it. Now time to look for my best and most presentable and well-done manuscript - “A Step into Darkness”. Yah! That’s my best one, as I thought to myself. Best I have ever written since my last twenty years.

Back to my filthy room. I started to look high and low for my manuscript, not leaving any stone unturned. I ran through all the pages of my works from my best to my worst. But still no sign of it. The clock was ticking, it was already past one. My heart was pounding real fast now; a sense of giddiness was taking over me. My hands were sweating and I was furiously wiping them on my trousers. Papers were all over my room - balls of papers, scraps of papers, coffee spills everywhere. Yet there was no “A Step into Darkness”.

Then as I was flipping through my collections of manuscripts, which I had written over the years, I chanced upon a manuscript that I had long forgotten. I uncovered it from my dusty drawer. The manuscript was yellow on the edges now, with a coffee stain on the top left hand corner of each page. I had accidentally spilled some black coffee over it when I had left it on that dusty wooden table of mine. “Polished Words” was one of my earlier stories that I am pleased with.

Whistling my favorite tune, “Pretty woman”, I walked out of my apartment door confidently. Though it was quite unlike the confidence that I had first started out with. I hailed a cab and headed straight to Corgi Books.

I was fidgeting when I saw the tall skyscraper where Corgi Books were one of the tenants. I stepped right in, pressed on level forty-nine, and it brought me straight up to Corgi Books.  When the door of the lift opened, I was faced with a small, modest looking door with the words, “Corgi Books”. This was very unlike the rest of the offices which housed large fancy glass doors weighing a good ten pounds for each side. You practically needed two strong hands to push them open.

“Hello! Anyone in there? I am Johnny Walker!” I yelled my lungs out, “Hello!”

After a good ten minutes of yelling, jumping and knocking, someone came to the door.

“You’re Johnny Walker?”

“Yes, and are you the editor or the publisher?”

“Well, I think I am both. Make yourself at home,” said the editor and publisher.

There I was in the office of Corgi Books, looking around the run down office interior. Books were all over the place, manuscripts all torn and tattered, some even seemed to be sitting in the Inbox of the editor for a couple of hundred years. Others looked untouched, mostly scattered all over the place with footprints all over them. I thought to myself - why did they lease such an expensive location in the first place?

“I think I forgot to introduce myself. Most people call me Mr. Door. I am the editor and also the owner of Corgi Books. ”

As I talked to Mr. Door about my past experiences as a writer, or a failed novelist, I passed him the “Polished Words” manuscript. He flipped through the pages. There was a slight desirable grin on his face, it seemed he was pleased at what he saw.

“Mr. Walker, is an advance of three grand good for you? As for the rest of the payment, it will follow up when there is positive sign of book sales.”

As he was saying this, my mind was spinning. It was like waking up from a nightmare, from a dream. It was like seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I agreed readily.  Mr. Door also hinted to start on my next work.

 

So now it’s back to the drawing board. Only this time it is with a tinge of excitement and exhilaration.

 

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